WASHINGTON — In his handwritten will, al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden claimed he had about $29 million in personal wealth — the bulk of which he wanted to be used “on jihad, for the sake of Allah.”
The will was released Tuesday in a batch of more than 100 documents seized in a May 2011 raid that killed bin Laden at his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. The al-Qaida leader planned to divide his fortune among his relatives, but wanted most of it spent to conduct the work of the Islamic extremist terror network behind the Sept. 11 attacks.
The threat of sudden death was on his mind years before the fatal raid in Pakistan.
“If I am to be killed,” he wrote in a 2008 letter to his father, “pray for me a lot and give continuous charities in my name, as I will be in great need for support to reach the permanent home.”
The letters were included in a batch of documents released by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. They address a range of topics, including fractures between al-Qaida and al-Qaida in Iraq, which eventually splintered off into what is now known as the Islamic State; and bin Laden’s concerns about his organization’s public image and his desire to depict it as a united network.
In a letter to one of his wives who had been living in Iran, bin Laden expressed worry that her visit to a dentist could have presented the Iranians an opportunity to implant a small chip under her skin, apparently as a tracking device.
“My dear wife,” he began. “I was told that you went to a dentist in Iran, and you were concerned about a filling she put in for you. Please let me know in detail … any suspicions that any of the brothers may have about chips planted in any way.”
The Iranian dentist might have used a slightly enlarged syringe to make such an implant, bin Laden wrote in the letter. The U.S. translation is undated.
“The size of the chip is about the length of a grain of wheat and the width of a fine piece of vermicelli,” bin Laden said. He asked her to recall the exact date of her dental work, “also about any surgery you had, even if it was only a quick pinch.”
In another letter, addressed to “The Islamic Community in General,” bin Laden offered an upbeat assessment of progress in his holy war since 9/11 and of U.S. failings in Afghanistan. The letter is undated but appears to have been written in 2010.
“Here we are in the tenth year of the war, and America and its allies are still chasing a mirage, lost at sea without a beach,” he wrote.
“They thought that the war would be easy and that they would accomplish their objectives in a few days or a few weeks, and they did not prepare for it financially, and there is no popular support that would enable it to carry on a war for a decade or more. The sons of Islam have opposed them and stood between them and their plans and objectives.”
Bin Laden sought to portray the U.S. as hopelessly mired in an unwinnable war in Afghanistan. In an undated letter that appears to have been written in the 2009-2010 period, he compared the American combat position to that of the Soviet Union in the final years of its occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s.
“America appears to be hanging on by a thin thread. Due to the financial difficulties,” he wrote.
“We need to be patient a bit longer. With patience, there is victory!”
Beginning last summer, the CIA spearheaded an interagency review of the classified documents under the auspices of the White House’s National Security Council staff. Representatives from seven agencies combed through the documents.
“This was no easy feat as members of the task force dedicated themselves over a long period of time working in an intelligence community facility to review and declassify as many documents as possible,” said Brian Hale, a spokesman for the national intelligence director.”
The review is ongoing, with the next release expected later this year.
Shortly before his death, bin Laden hailed the overthrow and death of Libya’s strongman leader Moammar Gadhafi.
In a Feb. 25, 2011 letter addressed “to our people in Libya,” bin Laden said al-Qaida had triumphed over Gadhafi.
“Praise God, who made al-Qa’ida a great vexation upon him, squatting on his chest, enraging and embittering him, and who made al-Qa’ida a torment and exemplary punishment upon him, this truly vile hallucinating individual who troubles us in front of the world!” he wrote.
Associated Press reporters Deb Riechmann and Robert Burns wrote this report.